It's Prison for Dad, Son Whose Lottery 'Luck' Was a Scam

Ali and Yousef Jaafar illegally cashed 14K tickets over 9 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
Lottery Retailers Helped Father, Son Scam $20M
Stacks of Massachusetts lottery tickets are shown.   (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

A father and son in Massachusetts will spend years in prison for a decade-long lottery scam that saw them claim $20 million in winnings from 14,000 tickets, illegally obtained from the true winners. Authorities are calling it "an elaborate tax fraud" that ensnared not only the father and son but a second son and "a vast network of co-conspirators," including convenience store owners, per CNN. According to the US Attorney's Office in Boston, the defendants illegally purchased lottery tickets from winners who opted for a discounted price so as to avoid identification by the state lottery commission, which is required to "withhold any outstanding taxes, back taxes, and child support payments before paying out prizes."

Ali Jaafar, 63, and Yousef Jaafar, 29, of Watertown would claim the lottery prizes as their own, helped by convenience store owners whom they "recruited and paid ... to facilitate the transactions," prosecutors say. The pair cashed over 14,000 tickets "from at least 2011 through at least June 2020." It was hard not to notice. In 2019, Ali Jaafar was the highest individual ticket casher in the state. His son, Mohamed, was the third highest, and Yousef was the fourth highest. They further profited by "reporting the winnings on their income tax returns and claiming equivalent fake gambling losses as an offset." They reported federal tax losses of more than $6 million and ended up collecting $1.2 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

A federal jury convicted Ali and Yousef of one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of filing a false tax return in December, before sentencing was handed down Monday. Ali received five years in prison, while Yousef received four years and two months. They are also required to forfeit their profits and pay more than $6 million in restitution. Mohamed Jaafar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS in November and is due to be sentenced in July, per CBS News. Prosecutors note that more than 40 lottery retailers who participated in the scheme will see their lottery agent licenses revoked. (This lottery scammer got out 20 years early.)

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